All About Supplements Part 1

Getting in shape and staying in shape can be viewed as having a two pronged approach.

What should you take?

1. Diet

2. Workouts

However if you’ve got the budget it can also have a third prong – Supplements

In the order of importance I would say diet and exercise are 1 and 1A. You can certainly get in great shape without every using a supplement, but if budget allows there are some interesting supplements that can likely help you along the way.

To be clear, they are called ‘supplements’ for a reason…and that is because they’re not meant to replace diet, or replace exercise, but only to supplement the work you are already doing in the kitchen and the gym.

So what is a supplement anyway? Do you even know? The definition of a supplement changes from country to country as does the requirement for scientific proof of the efficacy and safety. The concept of ‘supplement’ is a legal definition based on the governing bodies of your given region. A supplement can be legal for sale in one country and illegal in the very next country over (United States vs Canada for example).

The legal definition and status of a supplement can change throughout it’s lifecycle as well. In some cases a supplement can be in a grey area where it does not have government approval for sale, but it’s not quite illegal yet either. In these cases the supplement in question is being sold while it’s legal definition is ‘pending approval’. In some cases a product can be determined a drug and thus illegal for sale as a supplement.

If you’ve been a regular consumer of sports/bodybuilding supplements over the past decade then it’s likely you have taken a product that has been re-categorized as a drug and thus illegal. In some sense you could even say that you’ve been taking a ‘banned’ substance that would definitely have you failing a drug test in any organized sport!

Supplement manufacturers move fast getting new products onto the market. So fast that in some cases regulatory bodies cannot keep up with the pre-market regulatory review process to determine if a product is safe and effective for sale. Some products can gain a significant market share while regulators scramble to figure out what is being sold and if it should be classified as a supplement or drug.

This is a dynamic struggle between supplement manufacturers and regulators, and it’s been going on since supplements hit the market. As long as supplement manufacturers can find new ingredients and new derivatives if existing ingredients there will always be this grey area between what is known and studied, and what is new and not fully understood yet.

In this first part we discuss the definition of what a supplement is, how the industry got started, and what it has evolved into.


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Omega 3 Fats and Fish Oils: Everything You Need to Know

Fish Oils and more specifically Omega 3 Fatty acids are one of the most well researched supplements on the global market, and it’s become a billion dollar industry. Omega 3 fats get promoted for all kinds of health benefits but do you  really know why they’re recommended? Do you really know what scientific proof we have for each of the purported claims?

Do you have to get your omega 3 fats from fish oil?

In today’s podcast I talked to an expert in the Fish Oil industry Colin Garrioch from Nutrasource Diagnostic Inc. They are a consulting and contract research organization that works with supplement companies to bring their brands to market, testing for quality, purity, and efficacy as well as legal compliance.

This type of service is bringing more legitimacy to the supplement industry and provides a structure for consumers to validate that their supplements are of high quality and purity.

We discuss everything about fish oils from the raw materials, to the processing and the final product doses. We talk about the recommended doses, where those recommendations come from, what the health benefits are and how to go about looking for a quality Omega 3 (fish oil) supplement.

If you ever had a question about fish oil and omega 3 supplements, we’ll have it answered by the end of this podcast.


Show notes:

Here is the link to the IFOS consumer reports program Colin mentions in the podcast: IFOS Consumer Reports

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Multivitamin vs Food Does it Matter?

Multivitamins have everything you need, but so does food

When you start to categorize food based on it’s nutrient composition instead of the experience of it simply being food you end up in a very strange place.

If you thinking about it enough you’ll end up with this common question:

“why can’t I just take a multivitamin to get all of my essential nutrients and then just eat whatever foods I want”

This is an obvious question and there is no obvious answer.

The essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals have been categorized this way because removing any one of them from your diet for an extended period of time will show a measurable physical deficiency (think Vit C deficiency and scurvy)

There may be other nutrients we don’t know about that could provide some sort of  benefit, but in general we already know which ones you MUST ingest on a regular basis to avoid serious negative effects.

Theoretically there is no reason why you couldn’t just get all of your vitamins and minerals from a multivitamin and eat whatever mix of food you like to go along with it.

It’s likely that you’ll end up eating a mix of food anyway and get even more vitamins and minerals from whichever foods you choose to eat…there are very few food items that have absolutely no vitamins or minerals present in them.

Unless you tried to survive on pure white sugar there is really no way of eating without getting many vitamins and minerals.

Beyond these essentials there are a few other things to consider like fiber and perhaps some essential fats (although there is no scientific consensus on the need for essential fats or a daily dose)

Deconstructing food to it’s constituent parts is a good way to take all the fun out of eating. It makes much more sense to try and just enjoy whatever foods you have available and explore different tastes, flavors and styles.

There is very little chance that you will ever become vitamin or mineral deficient if you live in any sort of industrialized country (and if you’re reading this post that likely means you).

In today’s podcast we’ll talk about the concept of nutrients from multivitamins vs food and why this a false dichotomy simply because all foods have vitamins and minerals.


Supplement Recall – Novedex Containing ATD

novedex recall

The real Nolvadex

The FDA recently requested a recall of various muscle building supplements that contained a substance called 3, 17-keto-etiocholetriene which is an anti-aromatase drug…so who cares about anti-aromatase drugs?

Well Aromatase is an enzyme that coverts testosterone to estrogen in a mans body, this conversion is where estrogenic side effects from steroid use comes from (most notably breast tissue growth aka “Bitch tits”)

So why would a natural guy who is not using testosterone want to take an anti aromatase drug/supplement?

Even normal men have a small amount of testosterone aromatizing to estrogen, the theory is that if you block even this conversion you can create a negative feedback loop tricking your body into thinking testosterone is low and thus causing your body to increase testosterone production…so the theory goes.

One of the supplements that has been recalled had a scientific research study done showing that subjects who took the product had increases in free and total testosterone…these results aren’t surprising now that we know there was a legitimate drug in the product all along.

To be fair to the manufacturer there were no adverse event reports associated with the sale of the product for the duration of it’s time on the market.

The point is that you can never really be sure what is in the products you are taking and even the FDA’s line as to what qualifies as a ‘supplement’ vs a drug is often blurry.

This is by no means the only time this has happened. In some cases drugs are knowingly put in supplements to build up the ‘street cred’ of the product, and in other cases the FDA’s definition of what qualifies as a drug is blurry enough that manufacturers just push the limit until the FDA if forced to make a decision.

It has happened with ephedrine, it happened with ‘pro-hormones’ like andro and DHEA, and now with ATD, and it will continue to happen as raw material suppliers discover new classes of compounds that fall between the line of supplment and drug.

In todays podcast we’ll discuss this recall and what goes into making a supplement and how drugs can end up in supplements without you knowing it.